Joshua Ward House
The Joshua Ward House was built long after the Salem Witch Trials were over and those involved were buried, but still has significance linking the two events. The house was built in 1784 for a local merchant, Joshua Ward, and lies directly atop the foundation of another home belonging to George Corwin, High Sheriff of Essex County, Massachusettes. George Washington also stayed in the Ward's Mansion while visiting Salem in 1789. In the late 19th century the house became the Washington Hotel. The hotel was restored by architect Staley McDermet between 1978 and 1979. Much of the original design was preserved. The house went on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Backstory and Context
Jonathan Corwin and his wife came to live in Salem Massachusettes in 1685 with their three children in what was later named the Witch House. The house featured three steep gables, vaulted ceilings and a massive central chimney. Later Joshua Ward, a retired sea captain chose to build a house on the same foundation the former Corwin house was on.On October 29, 1789, George Washington stayed in the house for one night as part of his New England Tour. During the 19th century, the house was used as a hotel and called the Washington Hotel, likely because of his stay there. The house was built on the foundation of the previous dweller George Corwin who was responsible for the many brutal deaths during the Salem Witch Trials. Corwin was a brutal man who was known to hang the accused face down with their necks tied to their ankles until blood ran from their noses and some just hung from their neck until dead. He was nicknamed "the strangler."
Giles Corey was the last to suffer from the hands of Corwin after being buried under a pile of rocks while pleading his innocence. He maintained his innocence and even asked for more rocks to be placed on top of him to finish him off. Before his last breath, he cursed Corwin and all the Sheriff's thereafter. Corwin died of a heart attack in 1696, at 30 years old. Every sheriff after him also died in office or had to leave because of a blood issue. The family decided to bury him in the cellar of the house to keep his grave from being desecrated. Some speculate that Corwin was responsible for the paranormal activity that went on in the house.
After a realty company purchased the home in 1981, more ghostly encounters started happening. Once when the employees came together for a photo and captured an image of a feminine figure in the background. Other incidences were happening, such as doors closing on their own, lights turning off and on, objects floating in the air. What appears to be two women in the house have been seen wondering around. Today the house remains open as Carlson Realty and Higginson Book Company.